Saturday, June 25, 2011

Getting Creative with Expanding My Vegetable Garden

I have been gardening with the Square Foot Garden Method for four years now.  The first year I was able to plant more of a variety of vegetables because my strawberries and mint had not spread to the extent they are now.

Now in the fourth year, the strawberries and mint each utilize a box of their own.  This means I have had to become more creative at finding places to plant.  We have such a population of rabbits that my creativity has to include that obstacle.  I have to enclose each bed with fencing as well as cover the top of it.  If I don’t cover the top, they jump the three foot fences.  Crazy little critters, anyway.

Last year while my husband was away I purchased some round raised bed kits.  I only needed one at the time, so the others got placed in storage.  My mistake.  I should have had them in place, before he got home, because now he won’t let me add anymore.  He hates mowing around my beds.  I think he does a wonderful job, however, he mumbles it takes him too long to trim and mow around them.

When I nicely begged to have more beds added to expand my gardening this year, I was met with disapproval.  With the economy the way it is, I felt a huge push to expand our garden.  Wanting to plant as much as I could, to lessen our grocery bill, not to mention have fresh vegetables, I had to get creative.   He joking said, “tear up the flower bed out front and use it.”  I didn’t tell him, but I had already considered that option.  I just didn’t really want to remove all of the marigolds I had planted there several years ago.

Each year I would save the seeds from the marigolds and spread them in the bed so they would return the following year.  They would bloom until frost and I didn’t have to do anything but remove the dead flowers.  I would also leave the plants in the bed throughout the winter for the rabbits to eat.  They in turn, helped to fertilize the bed each year.  They also attracted bees to our yard which was also beneficial for pollinating my garden.

The marigolds would also pop up in various places throughout the yard which was an added benefit in detracting pests.  If they pop up in a garden bed, I often leave a plant or two to help keep the bugs away from the vegetables. 

Marigolds popping up with other flowers.
Marigold trying to grow among the lettuce and radishes

Having begged for more space, and not getting any lenience, I had no other option but to rip out the flowers and get busy.  I added some peat moss, vermiculite, and compost to the bed to enrich the soil and started planting.

My newest vegetable garden

Onions, Kale, Brussel sprouts, and Cabbage

I crammed as many vegetables and herbs into the area as I could.  

Peas being trained to grow up the trellis

Marigold among the mesclun


Basil and Zucchini


Until last week I was able to lay plastic garden fencing over the top to keep the rabbits out.  As the plants grew in size, they started to poke through the holes.  Unable to maneuver the heavy gauge wire fencing I have around the other beds by myself, I had to opt for the plastic fencing and bird netting.  It’s not the prettiest, but I have vegetables!  When I was done my husband had to comment how tacky it looked.  I said I was doing the best with what I had to work with.

Ironically, later in the evening my husband also made a comment to me that I didn’t really have enough garden beds to harvest enough to do much with.  Really?  Did he not hear me saying this while begging for more space?  He then commented, he didn’t think our yard was large enough for an adequate garden.  He really should read some of the books we have in our library some day.  I have several books on gardening in small spaces, edible landscapes, and backyard homesteading on as little as a quarter acre.  My dream some day would be to do away with most of the yard, and focus on an edible landscape.  I would also like to move to a place where I can expand my gardening to include fruit and nut trees, and of course have a goat(s) again.  I miss having a goat as a  pet.  My crazy love of goats is, however, for another post.

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